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Río Yulá San Juan, Guatemala (area: Mid Cuchumatanes; click here for the Guatemala table of rivers)

river photo

Class: V-; Ave. Gradient: 6 m/km; Portages: possibly; Length: 28 km; Time: 4.5 hours

Season: year-round; rafts? yes; Highlights: beautiful deep valley; Crux move: 2 x V-

Water Quality: good; Water Temperature: cool

PI: Yulá San Juan bridge (385m); TO: La Campana bridge (220 m)

Description: (click here for general notes about my descriptions)

The Río Yulá San Suan canyon is a sight to behold. Lush steep valley walls tower over class III and Iv rapids that churn blue-green water. Just watch out for the V-’s.

A full description is in the Mayan Whitewater Guatemala guidebook.

*This run is marked politically sensitive because of heightened tensions in Barillas because of conflicts over the small Canbalam hydroelectric project near town. In 2014 a short-lived state of siege was declared after some violent incidents occurred. The locals are quite suspicious of strange activity in this area, though I would not expect any unfriendliness on this run unless a new project pops up in the area.

Descent History: I ran this solo in November 2003, with 5,000 cfs at the TO.

Flow Notes: The Río Yulá San Juan is relatively large and holds its water well. I would expect raftable flows through December and often later. The Lacantún gauge, downstream in Mexico, gives a hint as to recent rain. I only have one data point, however: in January 2010, 11,500 cfs on the gauge gave 1,200 cfs at the PI.

cfs graph

Nearby Tourist Attractions: not much in this area.

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